Alfred always carries a sketchbook with him - it is impossible to know, or even predict when and how inspiration will come. And when it comes, he doesn't suppress it. With pencil, pen or marker in hand, he transcends into his muse and usually, when he's finally done or tired, the result is yet another masterpiece.
“I’m definitely in a special place when I draw; I call it my zone,” he says. “At that point or in that place, nothing else matters. It’s just me and the canvas.”
For as long as he can remember, Alfred Achiampong ’16, a Business Administration major, has been drawing. Growing up, often while in class, his mind would stray, and he would find himself making random sketches at the edges of his notebooks. These days though, he has carved his niche as an illustrator, focusing on building his talent in animation. “I’m most interested in animation,” Alfred says. “The style allows me to bend the rules. So when I'm drawing a person, I don't have to worry myself to figure out certain aspects such as proportions. It's also gives me a chance to express myself more as opposed to other styles like realism.”
Alfred looks up to fellow young artists like Kim Jung Gi, Stuart Immonen, Olivier Coipel, Bright Tetteh Ackwerh, Emmanuel Sackey, Delali Tsegah '11 and Katsuya Terada. The art industry in Ghana is slowly gaining much needed recognition, yet people blessed with the talent still remain hesitant to choose art as a career. Steadily though, local artists like Bright Ackwerh are beginning to garner recognition for their work. “The art industry is growing more inclusive by the day," says Bright, who was recently awarded the Kuenhyia Prize for Contemporary Ghanaian Art. "One can tell from the evidence of the several exhibitions springing up across the length and breadth of the country in private and public spaces that more mediums are being warranted. Like many other mediums of expressions, art could take some time to stand out but one must remain undeterred and encouraged to breakthrough.”
For Alfred, the slim prospects of artists in Ghana do not faze him. He is already working out ways to commercialize his talent. Recently, his work has been gaining enduring appeal on social media, gradually attracting a steady following and positive reviews. Earlier this year, London-based music producer, DJ Juls contracted Alfred to be the illustrator for his upcoming comic series. Also, out of his entrepreneurship class at Ashesi, Alfred and some of his mates started a wallpaper business as part of their capstone project. Alfred naturally works as the designer for the startup.
“My parents feel I should do this as just a hobby,” he says. “But I’m too passionate about this to just leave it as a hobby. If I treated it as a hobby, I could never exhaust it to its full potential.”
Alfred continues to explore his talent on a daily basis. His canvas stretches beyond his mind and his handy sketchbook. Often on campus, he will stroll into an empty lecture hall and if the inspiration comes, which is usually the case, the whiteboard quickly becomes his canvas, and a pair of markers his tools. “I draw every day. It’s a part of my life. It’s like something I can’t do without," he says. "It defines me as a person.”